Rare’s Blast Corps hit the N64 scene in March of 1997, was translated into late ’97 in England, so we’ll have picked this quirky gem up this time around 1998. Neat, huh? It was one of Rare’s first on the N64, prior to the British developer hitting the stratosphere with Goldeneye 007 in late ’97.
As such, Blast Corps was quickly dwarfed by the N64’s smash hit, but what you still have here, all these years on, is a weird game about destroying everything in the path of an out-of-control nuclear warhead on a truck. Nice, yeah? Cue a load of weird and wonderful vehicles, a heck of a lot of demolition, and you have yourself a N64 cult classic. Hurray!
Okay, this is still quite an odd setup – a high-concept which places explosive, destructive action at the forefront of the gaming experience. It’s a single player title (going against the grain of four player options the N64 delighted millions with) and you’re there heading up the Blast Corps demolition company to stop TWO runaway nuclear missile carriers from blowing up and killing everyone. Nice!
Over the course of some 57 levels, you promptly get eight vehicles to choose from. Some of these are great fun, such as the bulldozer, and others are a complete pain in the arse. It’s fair to say the controls aren’t always up to much and gamers were frustrated by how this ramped up the difficulty level on certain levels (the worst vehicle is this side-swiping dump truck thing, where you have to slide your arse into buildings to get them out of the way – that was, apparently, inspired by a Mario Kart 64 feature).
The UK’s best N64 magazine, which was called N64 Magazine (duh!), was always the place to turn to for the best reviews. At its peaks, the magazine was selling around 80,000 editions, which was pretty incredible for the time. One of its staff members, Glenn Plants, has since taken to YouTube and you can see HIS full review above. Whatever. Our review is better. So there.
We mentioned N64 Magazine as we want to get round to reviewing this publication to educate you idiots, but let us not forget we’re here to also celebrate Blast Corps. The N64’s fanbase has kept the title in mind and ensured it’s not fallen into obscurity. It remains a fun, if weird, cult gem and at this point in the industry’s history a sequel would be bloody brilliant! Here’s hoping someone does that, eh?
At the time, Rare had suddenly emerged as Nintendo’s development darling – handed the Donkey Kong project, it produced a trilogy of well-received titles on the SNES. On the N64, its first game was the largely forgettable Killer Instinct Gold, but Blast Corps was next up and showcased the developer’s knack for wacky, creative, ridiculously endearing romp alongs.
Rare’s co-founder, Chris Stamper, had kept the idea in mind for years and landed the project on four recent graduates the company had hired. Lead designer Martin Wakeley has said he thinks Blast Corps is a puzzle game at it’s core (or Corpse… or, should that be, corpse!?) and he has a point, it’s just very possibly the most explosive possible game there has ever been.
It first appeared at Space World in 1996 which was Nintendo’s trade show of the time – over in Nippon, the game wound up being called Blast Dozer. Because. The remarkable thing here is, the team at Rare (of a handful of people) turned this project around in just over a year. And it’s great!
Call it prescient or mere foreshadowing, but it such a story indicates how many indie developers are now able to turn a gem around in a short space of time, with a limited budget, and minus a mammoth team to power it along. Rare – back then, you guys were belting.